Knowing Birth Series: Tara H (5)

knowing birth

WHAT IS KNOWING BIRTH?

Here is the link to the original Knowing Birth post.

There are so many books and studies claiming to know the truth about birth, but what I’ve found in my conversations with mothers and birth professionals are so many unique experiences surrounding each birth. A book or study can’t possibly take into account the actual voices of individuals. So what better way to find out than to simply ask.

That led me to what I call Knowing Birth interviews. I have come up with a handful of questions that, moms, dads and care providers will answer. I’ll then take their answers and put them directly on this blog.

The only requirement is honesty and openness, and maybe a few pictures too. If you would like to share your experience and answers to the following questions, please email me at doulamegan@gmail.com and I will get the questionnaire to you directly. Anyone can participate and there’s no judgment from me about your answers. I promise to keep a close eye on the comments and keep ‘em clean.

THIS WEEKS INTERVIEW IS THANKS TO…

Tara and her beautiful family. The photos Tara sent me are so amazing and a tribute to the  beauty of birth. All photos were taken by their doula Kyndal May.

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Where did you choose to have your birth and why? What are your feelings about that choice now?

I chose to give birth to both of my children at The Baby Place (now New Beginnings) Birth Center. I honestly feel that it was one of the very best choices I have ever made in my entire life.

How did you prepare for your birth?

While pregnant with my first baby, I did A LOT of research comparing hospital birth versus out-of-hospital birth, and natural birth versus medicated birth. My husband and I also planned to meet the midwives and tour the center then do the same at a hospital with a doctor. However, once we met our midwives, asked several questions, and toured the birth center, we both had an overwhelming feeling that this was where we wanted our baby to be born. The midwives offered exactly what I wanted for my labor/birth experience; they were extremely knowledgeable and made me feel very comfortable asking any and all questions we had.  We also took Kyndal May’s Confident Childbirth class and hired her as our doula (for both births actually). I highly recommend every parent to take her class and hire a doula! I just can’t say enough at how the positive view (one that says childbirth is a natural process and not a problem that needs fixed), was the most encouraging way to birth my babies.

Who was invited and present at your birth?

For my son’s birth (my first) we had a bit of an audience. Other than my midwives, doula and husband, we had my mom, his mom and his sister. I was happy to have them present towards the end of my labor and while pushing. They were all very encouraging to me and it’s so fun to talk about the moments during that time.

For my daughter’s birth (my second), we had planned to have the same family present, however, she came very fast and was born about ten minutes after arriving to the birth center. It ended up just being my midwife, doula and husband and everyone else arrived just seconds after she was born.

Looking back, I know it was intended to be that way. It is so cool to have each kind of experience; one with family and one with just us and our birth team.

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If it was not your first birth, please compare/contrast your experiences.

Although both babies were born at the same birth center, even in the same room (not even by choice as my daughter was so fast that we stopped where we landed), my experiences were slightly different. My midwives were different; however, they were equally wonderful, compassionate, and trustworthy. My labors were also very different, and it was so fulfilling to have a doula and husband that knew how to comfort me during my hard moments of each labor.

What qualifications do you look for in a midwife/OB/primary care provider?

My biggest qualifications are knowledge and trust. I need someone who has knowledge about every aspect of pregnancy/labor/birth and is able to educate and encourage me along the way. I need somebody who trusts the process and who I can trust to handle the process. It is mine and my babies’ lives on the line! I feel blessed that I found these qualifications in all of my midwives.

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What is your ideal relationship with a birth attendant?

My ideal relationship with my midwives is one that is comfortable and caring. I was never treated as a “patient” and I always felt comfortable asking even the silly question I had along the way. They were professional while also making me feel like a friend and they never rushed my appointments. They really made me feel important like mine and my baby’s needs were at the top of their list.

If you have received maternity care from both the medical and midwifery models of care, what are the biggest differences? Pros/cons of each?

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Did you feel adequately informed of your options?

I felt very informed about my options. I knew exactly what I wanted or didn’t want in a care provider as well as my birth. My midwives were always very up front with their statistics as well as their plan if transfer if I needed it. I felt completely safe in their care and knew they always had me and my baby’s best interest in mind. I wish all care providers, doctors to be exact, had to provide their statistics, as well.

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Describe your ideal birth environment at this point in time.

The birth center is my ideal birth environment. It is so peaceful and calm and provides all of the comfort measures I could desire.

How do you feel about the safety of birth in a hospital vs outside of a hospital?

I know for a fact that I received the safest and most personal care available for my family. I find it funny when people question out of hospital birth for safety reasons. I think many people have a very medical mindset when it comes to the natural/normal process. The interventions that occur at a hospital (some that uneducated women wouldn’t even think of as an intervention) change the whole process of labor and significantly increase the risk of needing more interventions and a lot of the time, cesarean sections.

When labor is able to take its natural path, no hospital or medical intervention is needed. I feel that a midwife is a better candidate to trust the process and let your body do what it knows to do instead of intervening and viewing it as a medical problem that need “fixed”.

However, I know my midwives are also highly trained to know when labor is becoming a medical emergency and will get you to a hospital if you need to be there. I think most people would be surprised at how often they don’t need medical help to do something their body was made to do. I feel that if more people completely educated themselves with unbiased information, more people would choose out of hospital birth. Women, who fully understand and trust the process, don’t fear birth.

Is there anything you would change about public policy relating to birth/maternity care? Why/how?

Yes. I think insurance companies should provide coverage for birth center and home births. We paid out of pocket for both of our births, and I would do it again in a heartbeat as they are worth EVERY penny (and then some), but I do think it’s ridiculous for insurance companies to not accept them as caregivers. Un-medicated, out of hospital births are much more cost effective and would save SO much money. With this being said, I don’t think women should only choose out of hospital births just because of money either, so we should also be encouraging and educating about midwifery and the natural process of birth.

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What do you feel were the most influential factors surrounding your birth? Why?

I honestly had no clue what I wanted in a birth until I became pregnant. I had a friend who had her babies at the birth center as well as many of her family members. They all talked so highly of their experiences that I knew I needed to check it out. Between doing that and spending hours reading birth stories, researching, and taking childbirth classes, I knew the birth center was the best place to give birth. I also knew that even if I opted for a natural birth at a hospital, it wouldn’t be joyous and peaceful because I would refusing things and fighting for what I wanted and didn’t want instead of being praised and encouraged through the wonderful, amazing process.

Who owns birth?

Mothers and babies own birth. Moms deserve to have the experience they want to have while doing the most important, most rewarding thing they will ever do. They should be respected, encouraged and honored. They should be able to birth where and how they choose and be supported in doing so. Babies own birth because this is their big day and they come when they are ready to. They should be given the time to make their grand arrival without being forced to.

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HOW TO JOIN THE KNOWING BIRTH SERIES

Email me at doulamegan@gmail.com and I’ll send you the questionnaire directly. There are no requirements, only that you have a voice about birth and want to share it openly and honestly.

THANKS FOR FOLLOWING AND BE WELL!

 

Knowing Birth Series: Megan Alton (1)

knowing birthGuess what? I think pregnancy and birth are so cool. Right now I deal in human birth, but any animal birth thrills me too. My fascination started when I was 4 years old and my brother was born. My mom was always very happy to share her own pregnancy and birth experiences with me and I really feel that her honesty helped pave my road to becoming a doula and birth advocate.

In The Beginning

The first birth I ever saw in live and living color (as opposed to the NOVA: Miracle of Life on TV which I watched countless times as a kid) was when I was in college. My roommate and I had illegal hamsters in our dorm room, Beefcake and Cheesecake, and as hamsters are prone to do, Cheesecake made babies.

One day I noticed she was nested up in a small alcove of their cage, and then birthing of 5 baby hamsters commenced. I was her hamster doula, although I’m sure she wanted me to just go away. It was riveting, and that was just a hamster birth. Eventually I became a doula, I’m in the process of becoming a childbirth educator and since this post, I’ve also become an advocate for out of hospital midwife assisted birth.

It’s Time For The World To Know

Now I have a son and am even more enthralled with other families stories of birth and what they think of birth in general. As something of an anthropological study I decided that I need to interview as many people, who have a relationship with birth, as possible.

There are so many books and studies claiming to know the truth about birth, but what I’ve found in my conversations with mothers and birth professionals is that there are so many unique experiences surrounding each birth. A book or study can’t possibly take into account the actual voices of individuals. So what better way to find out than to simply ask.

Finding Our Voices

That leads me what I’m calling “Knowing Birth” interviews. I have come up with a handful of questions that, hopefully, moms, dads and care providers will answer. I’ll then take their answers and put them directly on this blog.

It’s time to give voice to anyone who has one regarding birth. There are no requirements about the when, type and location of the birth(s) and I also plan on interviewing birth attendants, midwives and doctors to get their unique perspectives.

You know you wanna do it too!

The only requirement is honesty and openness in your answers, and maybe a few pictures too. To set a good example, I’m going first. If you would like to share your experience and answers to the following questions, please email me at doulamegan@gmail.com and I will get the questionnaire to you directly. Anyone can participate and there’s no judgment from me about your answers. I promise to keep a close eye on the comments and keep ’em clean. Now, let’s get started!

Knowing Birth: Megan Alton (that’s me!)

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Where did you choose to have your birth and why? What are your feelings about that choice now?

I chose to have my birth at The Baby Place (now New Beginnings), a birth center in Meridian, Idaho that is run by Certified Midwives. I opted for this location for a few reasons:

  • As a doula I had been to other births there and they were always gentle and beautiful
  • I knew the midwives and that made me very comfortable
  • I’ve always known I was going to have an out of hospital birth, always

My experience was phenomenal. Everything I wanted, caring prenatal visits, gentle guidance, education, personal freedoms and the peace of giving birth there was provided. I had my ideal birth and everything went according to plan (love when that happens). The safety, security and trust that I felt was paramount to having a satisfying birth experience.

How did you prepare for your birth?

I’m a doula and so I had a keen insight into birth long before I got pregnant. My husband and I planned for our child and were thrilled to become pregnant. We took the Hypno Babies childbirth education course and I found the affirmations to be particularly helpful through my pregnancy. I also received acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments on a weekly basis through my pregnancy. I worked as a kindergarten teacher until my 8th month and then took the last 2 months to be pregnant and take it easy. All prenatal exams were provided by my midwives. As for my diet, eh, we ate out a lot and I had a major addiction to Oreos. Next time around I’ll do it Real Food style.

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Who was invited and present at your birth?

My husband and good friend Sarah (my doula). Holly was my primary midwife through my birth however, there were 3 other midwives present for the delivery of my son.

 

If it was not your first birth, please compare/contrast your experiences.

I’ve only had one birth, but compared to the hospital births I’ve attended as a doula, my perception is that my out of hospital birth was calmer and less directed.

What qualifications do you look for in a midwife/OB/primary care provider?

I expect my care provider to have an understanding of (completely) natural pregnancy and birth. Any midwives/doctors that I see are expected to have appropriate credentials from legitimate certifying agencies. I expect my care providers to be active and passionate in their practice.

IMG_0226What is your ideal relationship with a birth attendant?

I’m the consumer. I expect the same of my birth attendants as any customer service provider. What I want for my experience should be central to their care for me and my family. I expect them to treat me with respect and to be open and honest about EVERY SINGLE PROCEDURE and expectation that have of me. In return I promise to educate myself, ask questions and have a respectful open dialogue with them.

If you have received maternity care from both the medical and midwifery models of care, what are the biggest differences? Pros/cons of each?

Personally, I have only ever received maternity care from midwives.

IMG_1820Did you feel adequately informed of your options?

It helped that I knew a ton about birth before I even got pregnant, but yes I felt very informed of my options. When it came time to make choices, they were left to me and my husband. Any question I had were directed to my midwives and we openly discussed pros and cons. It was so nice to be treated as an equal in my healthcare.

Describe your ideal birth environment at this point in time.

Any location out of the hospital. Low lights, warmth, access to water (tub preferably), no access to pain mediation or other birth altering drugs, privacy, soft place to land in between contractions, food/drink on demand, singing/moaning and the ability to vocalize, no separation from baby or family, quiet voices and the confidence of those surrounding me in the process of natural childbirth.

How do you feel about the safety of birth in a hospital vs outside of a hospital?

Obviously, I feel that out of hospital birth is safer than in hospital birth for all normal and healthy pregnancies and births. Due to the lack of pervasive technology, which I believe is a good thing in this case, and the confidence of out of hospital attendants, I believe that in the case of birth less is more. I also know that trained midwives know when problems arise and when pregnancy/birth becomes outside the scope of normal that they will correctly advise mothers when to take their care to a doctor/hospital. I know they always have the best interest of the mother/baby at hand.

Is there anything you would change about public policy relating to birth/maternity care? Why/how?

Midwifery and out of hospital birth should be legal in every state. It should be entirely up to the mother/family how and where they give birth to their babies. This is an issue of reproductive choice. Health insurance should cover ALL costs of ALL births, especially since natural midwife attended birth costs way less than hospital birth. In my opinion, Certified Nurse Midwives should take the place of gynecologists for all (normal) well woman care.

photo (25)What do you feel were the most influential factors surrounding your birth? Why?

Knowing my mom’s birth stories and being very comfortable with birth initially, shaped my view of normal natural birth. Having a supportive husband, who himself was born at home, and a super supportive extended family made it easy to make my maternity care choices. Certainly being a doula and having witnessed out of hospital midwife attended births GREATLY affected my view of how normal and non-interventive birth can be.

Who owns birth?

First and foremost, as sentient beings and keepers of their own bodies, mothers own their individual births. Obviously this comes with the input of the father/partner (assuming they are playing a primary role in care giving). The medical and midwife communities don’t own any woman’s birth experience. Their sole purpose is to provide necessary expert care for the wellbeing of the mother and child.IMG_3036

There you have it! It took me about half an hour to answer the questions honestly and without going into great detail. If you’re interested in being interviewed (anyone is welcome) please email me at doulamegan@gmail.com and I’ll send you the questionnaire and all pertinent information.

Thanks for following and be well!

*Photo credit for all pregnant, newborn and family photos goes to Ashley Romero.

This post featured in Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday